Photo a Week Challenge: Unexpected 7-25-19

 

Eagle Peek a boo

I have shared this photo so many times, for so many topics, but I really love it.

I think I even posted it once for the topic of “bokeh”, and STILL had not discovered the Bald Eagle photo-bombing my apple blossoms picture. It took a comment from a follower for me to see my own unexpected capture.

I think it might be one of my best, but totally by accident.

I might need some new material…

 

This discovery has continued to teach me…about paying attention, looking closely, seeing things from different perspectives, guardians watching over us, and Spirit Animals.

The Eagle is a symbol in many cultures of freedom, vision, and enlightenment….

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https://nadiamerrillphotography.wordpress.com/2019/07/25/a-photo-a-week-challenge-unexpected/

One of these things is not like the other….

Actually, they are identical…the only difference is AGE!!!!

 

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Our tiny local paper, delivered weekly, whether you want it or not…

 

How’s that for an existential moment?

 

PS Eventually that plastic wrap did dissolve. Kudos to my city for their environmental consciousness…

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40 “Things my Father said”

UH oh, uh oh, too big, TOO BIG!!!

My mind reels at the thought of picking one thing my Dad said that influences me! I could write a whole book about his subtle , even covert teachings.

Oh wait. I DID!

I have 52, still to be edited, chapters (short stories really) about something my Dad said or did that is still with me today. For the purpose of this challenge I will start with this.

When I was growing up, and there was conflict with my sisters, we of course would try to get Dad to solve it for us (which really meant “take sides”).

He would quietly listen to tales of woe and blame…and then, as if he had just thought of it and never ever said it before, he would say “Hmmm, Well, that’s one way to look at it…”

Period. That’s all. No solutions. No votes for one side or the other. Nothing. The implacable silence following his casual-seeming comment, I interpreted as lack of love clear into my adulthood.

But now, that sentiment is interwoven throughout my experiences, my calling.

Those words from him have fueled and inspired my stance in life. I am on a mission to teach and model for others, that we each have options about how we view things. And that it’s not just a choice, but a responsibility, to see things, especially in a conflict, from as many perspectives as we can confirm or imagine.

Thus Chosen Perspectives.

Here’s one of the Chapters (stories) I mentioned above. I feel very vulnerable sharing it so would appreciate any comments you are willing to make. You don’t have to like the story. Any kind of feedback is valuable. I would like to know if you read it. I’d so appreciate your “perspective”.

 


(working title)

The “Ruler” and the Torn Screen or One Square foot

“To this garden we were given
And always took for granted
It’s like my Daddy told me, ‘You just bloom where you’re planted’
We long to be delivered from this world of pain and strife.
That’s a sorry substitution for a spiritual life.” Don Henley- “Inside Job”

“Give a child an inch and he’ll think he’s a ruler.” Sam Levenson

When I was newly eleven years old, I decided to sneak out one night to meet my two of my friends. To achieve this daring escape, I had to tear the screen on my bedroom window.

Oh, I had my adventure alright. My fellow delinquents and I caroused a whole square block in quiet little Pacific Beach. We were MIA for a couple of hours, doing the classic deviant things of our generation…for Girl Scouts anyway. We stole pomegranates from a tree whose branches hung way out into the alley making them public property, right? And we creeped into one grouchy neighbor’s back yard to see baby bunnies in a homemade cage. This guy refused to let us see these precious fluff balls during the day time, matters into our own hands and all….

Almost sunrise, I came home triumphant but exhausted and forgot all about repairing the damage to the screen…..not that I could have fixed it anyway.

Of course, I was caught. My mother discovered it that same morning and boy, was she was pissed. I hadn’t thought to close my curtains to hide what she later called my “willful and thoughtless destruction of property”. When she found it, she didn’t say a word but I knew I was busted by how she glared at me. She was a silent seether.

Then, my Mom woke my Dad, only a couple of hours into his post graveyard-shift slumber. She insisted that he deliver my punishment…a spanking…unheard of in our household, and at eleven years old….I thought “Give me a break. Never gonna happen”.

But my extremely shy and pacifist father was apparently more invested in pleasing my mother than I had realized. Her explicit direction to him was to spank me for the torn screen. The sneaking out in the middle of the night part was completely ignored, a fact that bothered me for years.

I will never forget the look on my father’s face as he slowly entered my room and closed my door. He looked chagrined but also resigned. I was shocked that he was actually considering carrying out this task set upon him by his wife….completely out of character for him.

My Dad had never touched me in anger or punishment or, for that matter, even in love. We addressed this last much later. When I was in my forties, my sisters and I finally taught him how to hug us. It was visibly painful at first, but it finally grew on him.

But when I was eleven, he sat down on the very edge of my bed and then mumbled something about bending over his knee, the whole thing so surreal to me that I complied without question or reaction.

His swing was simultaneously swift but also slowed by some imaginary obstacle, like slapping his hand through a two foot thick barrier of Jell-O. From my vulnerable position, the approach of his hand made the expected whoosh through the air, but contact with my waiting butt never happened. He tried twice but could not quite muster the actual blow.

Then he startled me by smacking my bed, twice, and loudly. I was absolutely surprised but definitely not injured.

When I stood up and we were face to face, he didn’t speak a word but in a rare moment of slightly prolonged and very direct eye contact (seriously…my Dad was shy) he conveyed to me ‘Please don’t tell your mother”. I read his look loud and clear…..and played my silently assigned part to the hilt. I cried real (but exaggerated) tears for quite a while, making sure my mother saw and heard me. I was furious with her but I don’t think I had never felt so loved by my Dad.

 

One of my childhood friends was named Mary Lou Reichel. She lived two doors down and sometimes I was invited to go on adventures with her family. They had a big motor boat and I went Marlin fishing with them. They did so many things, even attending church….all together. They were Catholic. Mary Lou and her big brother even went to the parochial school. Mr. Reichel was very strict and the mom very quiet and religious. I loved their family. They were so different from my own and I longed for my parents to assume their proper stereotypical positions like Mr. and Mrs. Reichel.

I remember so clearly a reaction Mary Lou had to my Dad one sunny Sunday afternoon.

We were hanging out in my front yard while Dad worked on the car. I was complaining to him about how bored I was and why couldn’t he take us for ice cream or to the beach or…whine, whine, whine. He just looked at me, a familiar look so I knew what was coming next. But Mary Lou froze and held her breath. It was as if she knew the very words my Dad would say next, and she was exactly right. With a faintly apologetic sigh, he said, “Go get the ruler.”

Mary Lou’s reaction puzzled me. Her eyes widened, panic on my behalf all over her face, and her shoulders went up to her ears. “Go get the ruler” meant something so different to her and I know now she had regularly been on the receiving end of a Ruler Whap…on her knuckles from the nuns at her school and her father had broken several yard sticks over her bare bottom. Later that afternoon, she actually cried and whispered to me, as if her father two doors down might hear, how she wished her Dad was as nice as mine. Grass is always greener, huh?

I had envied her father taking her to church all the time. The sum total of religious teaching I received from mine was this.

“Boredom is a sin.”

So when my Dad, a consummate and camouflaged spiritual teacher, said “Go get the ruler”, here’s what he meant.

Take the ruler and some chalk or a pencil and mark off one square foot of surface…on anything….the car, the wall, the grass, and my personal favorite, the sidewalk in front of our house.

Then, he told me to stare at it until I found something miraculous. That’s it.

Do you have any idea how much life there is in one square foot of Southern California lawn? Weeds, pill bugs, itty bitty daisy-like flowers, rocks, the marble I lost last summer, caterpillars, and always, about one thousand ants. And I was convinced the sidewalk was filled with flecks of pure gold. (I bet this is why I so enjoy Macro Photography!!!

It would occupy my sisters and me for hours. We were inspired to start collections. It gave us stimulating stories to tell and write. We built complete little towns with the gathered natural debris from neighboring square foots….and this was just from the grass. The lathe and plaster walls in our house held scenes filled with animal shapes. Our brown shag carpet was jam-packed with faces. The sidewalk became a canvas for colored chalk. One time I used a square foot of beach towel and a magnifying glass to get a good look at what terry cloth really is. (That was the same time I learn about the fire starting power of a magnifier!)

It took me many years to choose between Mary Lou’s perspective and mine about my father. I had seen my Dad as distant and cold, not really caring that much about me… not that he was mean. I always did the things he suggested; “Close your eyes and count five sounds”, “Name five smells in the air right now”, “Where did all those tadpoles go?” “What happened to the Polliwogs we saw just last week?” And “Why is our favorite pond now filled with tiny frogs?”

And I enjoyed the adventurous outings he would provide. The bustle and commotion in a single square foot of tide pool is truly amazing.

Just five blocks from our house they were excavating deep into a hillside in preparation for a new subdivision of homes. My Dad knew this would be a once in a life time opportunity so he packed up the tool box and took us there on the weekends when all the big machinery was silent. Our tools were our beach buckets, some old paint brushes, the fancy grapefruit spoons (“Don’t tell your mother”), and of course, the ruler. I still have beautiful and amazing fossils from those expeditions.

When I was young, I thought my father was just weird, but now, I see him through Mary Lou’s longing eyes. He was a gentle, loving, unassuming and brilliant Master Parent and Spiritual Guide. Completely out of our awareness, he was training us to be biologists, artists, ecologists, archaeologists, maybe even Buddhists.

As I look back now, I can only imagine what that “spanking” over the torn screen must have cost him.

 

 

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40: Things My Father Said*

SongLyricSunday 3/17/19

 

“You’re watching the official music video for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Teach Your Children” written by Graham Nash. Originally released on the 1970 CSNY studio album “Deja Vu”, “Teach Your Children” is featured on a 2018 Graham Nash career retrospective entitled “Over The Years…” Get a copy here https://rh-ino.co/overtheyears The video is a collaboration between Graham Nash and celebrated filmmaker and animator Jeff Scher. The imagery frames the youth-led liberal activism of 2018 against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and Peace demonstrations of the 1960’s, providing a powerful visual aid to Graham Nash’s relevant-as-ever appeal to teach not only our children but also our parents well. “I wrote Teach Your Children because we have much to teach them. Conversely, I believe we as parents have much to learn from them as well. I think that Jeff Scher did a wonderful job of animating my lyrics and positioning the song in a contemporary setting.” – Graham Nash (2018)”

Teach Your Children

Lyrics

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
Songwriters: Graham Nash
Teach Your Children lyrics © Spirit Music Group

https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/spring-break/

SongLyricSunday 2/24/19 theme Harmony/Melody/Music

Not sure if my choice this week fits the theme but I do love the melody of this song.

It’s just that the song, and especially the video, mean so much to me. It has been around for a while but I fell all the way in love with it when I heard it on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. (Historically, this TV series has given me so many favorite songs.)

A couple of weeks ago, a baby, in serious trouble, was born into my extended community, and somehow this song gave me comfort. (She’s going to be fine but it was close…way too close.)

My son’s birthday was yesterday, and everything about this song made me think about him…his life…his path.

My favorite lines:

This is not love you’ve had before
This is something else

It describes the love I feel for my children and my grandchildren.

It’s just a beautiful song and video. I hope you enjoy.

 

Life On Earth
The first snow
First winter of my life
I was told it was the height of me
The first dance
Well, the first one that counted
Felt like my blood was built my from crackling lights
Oh this ancient wildness
That we don’t understand
The first sound of a heartbeat
To riots roaring on
This is not love you’ve had before
This is something else
This is something else
This is not the same as other days
This is something else
This is something else
This shouldn’t need to be so fucking hard
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
It doesn’t need to be the end of you, or me
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
The first light
First light on the silent shore
Just the ships set anchor me and you
The way home
This is always the way home
So you can rip that map to shreds, my dear
But all we ever wanted
To see miles and miles from here
In the first days in a strange new land
We could be sailors
This is not the love you’ve had before
This is something else
This is something else
This is not the same as other days
This is something else
This is something else
This shouldn’t need to be so fucking hard
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
It doesn’t need to be the end of you, or me
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
This shouldn’t need to be so fucking hard
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
It doesn’t need to be the end of you, or me
This is life on earth
It’s just life on earth
Songwriters: Garret Noel Lee / Gary Lightbody / John McDaid / Jonathan Graham Quinn / Nathan Connolly / Paul Wilson
Life On Earth lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Spirit Music Group

 

https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/23-days-left-till-spring/

When snow is a foreign experience…

First, let me say it is so beautiful…at first…

But on my side of the Cascade Mountain Range, in Washington state, when it snows, the population panics and everything screeches to a freezing halt!!

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Schools and businesses close. Stores sell out of staples (no milk or bread for miles around.) Cars that have slid or become stuck are simply abandoned where ever they are…in the middle of roads or even freeways.

Since Super Bowl Sunday, we have had no garbage pick up and only a single mail delivery!

All these things are a pain in the ____!

But it’s not a hurricane, tsunami, fire, tornado or war!! So we have to keep it all in perspective.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to focus on the amazing and delightful parts of it all. (The best thing for me is that we have not lost power!) There is so much to look at, it’s like being on an exotic trip or moving to a new part of the country!

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Oh, there is still ordinary drama! Who will win the steep hill that is our neighborhood’s long, dead-end street? Will it be the kids (of varying ages…including their 40’s) who are dying to get out their sleds and snowboards, as has always happened in the past with our rare snowfalls here? Or will it be the exceptionally kind and thoughtful neighbors, who get out their rarely used shovels, snow-blowers, and SALT, so they can clear our street for any necessary traffic.

This year the salt and snow-shovelers won. They were out there clearing the “perfect ski run” long before the No SCHOOL today kids even woke up!

I mean, they cleared the whole street, a couple of city blocks long…with SHOVELS…so all of us could get safely in and out of our neighborhood!!!

Also, I have been delighted to be able to continue feeding the seed birds, the hummers, and my crows.

I have fed my crows every morning for 35 years! Here’s my morning routine. I CAW and they come. This one Crow waits for me on top of a pole every morning until I say “Good morning. Here’s your breakfast.” And then I dump out yesterday’s leftover cat food scrapings, or a scrap of bread. He calls his Murder buddies and they all compete with the squirrels for the leftovers. Their favorites are dry cat food…and french fries!

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Then there are the intrepid seed eating birds. Not much stops them. They can empty the feeder in a day or two at certain times of the year.

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a short discussion before lunch…
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This guy doesn’t look too happy (or healthy). Finches tend to give each other conjunctivitis and I fear this fella might have it.
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And this one ate spilled seeds under the feeder, but was down there way, WAY too long. I hope he made it. This was on our 17 degree day.

 

As long as I keep the Hummingbird food thawed, they come and fill up all day long. But on the nights I take the feeders in so they don’t freeze, the next morning, these guys are literally ON it, slurping away, before I even get it hung back up on its hook! That has been so fun, being that close to them. Wish I could hold the feeder and snap photos at the same time.

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waiting, not quietly, on the unused Bow-flex for me to bring out the feeder.

 

 

Here’s the other thing I have been enjoying. Each morning I bundle up and go outside on a quest to discover any fresh designs in the snow…foot prints, paw prints, claw prints…anything, even tire prints!

Foot

Paw

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Claw

Tire

I love the puzzles some of the prints leave. Like this set of prints that I thought was maybe a person, dragging their feet or a cane, or maybe a single animal low enough to be dragging its belly. But when I followed the trail…it split into TWO.

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It’s amazing how much nocturnal activity takes place that I never would have known about without the evidence fresh snow provides.

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Some are no surprise because I know they are out there. I just rarely see them.

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One night last Spring

One day I woke up to these. Unmistakably Raccoon prints!

 

This morning’s mystery was fascinating. Keep in mind we have NO large dogs in our neighborhood, not that any would be roaming free at night anyway. These prints are way too big for the occasional kitty cat that is out at night. And even too big for our local coyotes, who are rarely traveling around alone. SO what is it? A Wolf? A larger cat? (there have been Bobcat sightings recently…) AND, it left me an icky clue, marking the corner of my patio! No wonder my cats went nuts at 3 AM!!!

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We have a local Covey of Quail, and three of them have kept me completely entertained looking out my bedroom window. They are hysterical. They always scritch and scratch and throw clouds of dirt and seed shells out behind them when they are foraging under the bird feeder. But to see them dig that way, down through the powdery snow, was so cool. Every now and then, one would bury another, and there would be a split second squabble before they’d go back to digging again.

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Then there is the snow itself. I was married to the US Disabled Ski Team for a number of years, and some of those guys knew the names of 20 or 30 types* of snow!

Here is what we got for these record breaking days.

Don’t know the names of these but they were each so different from each other.

I just know we had a lot, over several days, so much that they were calling it Snowmaggeden 2019 on the news.

There is fun stuff to do with the snow…

 

And the occasional tragedy…

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My wonderful Italian Plum Tree!

And the snow came the day after I planted these…see the mounds under the snow? Still don’t know if they survived.

 

And of course, there is the huge mess at the end…but that will go eventually!

 

All in all, we stayed safe and warm, and it was an adventure to remember.

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*https://www.thoughtco.com/types-of-snow-3010035

 

PS Some of my neighbors and I collect tarps, heavy moving blankets, and flashlights using coupons from our Harbor Freight Tools store, for people living unsheltered.

I felt so grateful to be warm and dry, but never more frustrated on behalf of people living outside in weather like this.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve written about him many times before….my greatest teacher…

This year, I find myself singing instead.

It reminds me to NOT give up…..

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video/History/-/I-Have-a-Dream/7283